The Hippo


Apr 25, 2019








Where to take private voice lessons
Take your car or shower singing to the next level, or brush up on your skills with some newly learned techniques, at one of these local voice studios, community music schools and businesses offering private solo and group voice lessons.
• Bedford Youth Performing Company (155 Route 101, Bedford, 472-3894, offers private voice lessons for ages 13 and up. Tuition is $140 per month for one 30-minute lesson per week. For kids and teens, beginner group voice lessons are available on Tuesdays from 5 to 6 p.m. for ages 7 to 10. Intermediate group voice lessons are available on Tuesdays from 4 to 5 p.m. for ages 11 to 15. Both are $70 per lesson.
• Concord Community Music School (23 Wall St., Concord, 228-1196, is currently offering private voice lessons as part of its 16-week curriculum, which is already in progress. The costs for the full programs are $632 for 30-minute lessons, $936 for 45-minute lessons and $1,248 for 60-minute lessons, but all costs are prorated to whenever you sign up. There is also a $30 registration fee per student.
• Ear Craft Music (432 Central Ave., Dover, 749-3138, offers weekly private voice lessons by appointment. The cost is $25 per 30-minute lesson and $50 per 60-minute lesson.
• Leddy Center for the Performing Arts (38 Ladds Lane, Epping, 679-2781, offers voice lessons every Tuesday and Thursday now through May 3, with a recital date set for May 4. The cost is $21 per 30-minute lesson or $31.50 per 45-minute lesson, plus $10 registration and recital fees.
• Let’s Play Music! (281 Cartier St., Suite 201, Manchester, 218-3089; 145 Hampstead Road, Derry, 425-7575; 114 Rockingham Road, Londonderry, 216-6335; 9 Riverside St., Suite 2, Hooksett, 210-5634; 19 Keewaydin Drive, Suite 4, Unit 2, Salem, offers weekly private voice lessons with tuition that includes weekly drop-in songwriting, theory and sight-singing classes, as well as monthly group and workshop opportunities. The cost is $118 per month for 30-minute lessons, $216 per month for 60-minute lessons, $324 per month for 90-minute lessons, and $432 per month for 120-minute lessons.
• Londonderry Piano (20 N. Broadway, Salem, 898-9910, offers a plan of four private voice lessons each month, with $99 per month for 30-minute weekly lessons, $149 per month for 45-minute lessons and $198 per month for 60-minute lessons.
• Manchester Community Music School (2291 Elm St., Manchester, 644-4548, offers a price package of $199 for six trial private voice lessons, which are prorated for the remaining number of weeks in the season.
• Manchester Music Mill (329 Elm St., Manchester, 623-8022, offers voice lessons for students of all ages and abilities. Rates for lessons range from $20 to $25 per 30-minute lesson per week. No registration fee is required. Group lessons of two or more are also offered inside the ensemble, with rates for those lessons established by the individual instructor.
• Merrimack Music Academy (1 Bryce Drive, Merrimack, 493-9214, offers private voice lessons in monthly tuition packages, which include all the necessary materials, a music theory course, and access to mini recitals. The cost is $140 per month for up to five 30-minute lessons, and $260 per month for up to five 60-minute lessons, plus a $50 registration fee.
• Nashua Community Music School (5 Pine St. Ext., Nashua, 881-7030, offers private voice lessons to singers of all ages and abilities in 30-, 45- and 60-minute sessions. A trial pack of three 30-minute lessons is available for first-time students for $99. The cost for 14-week fall terms for lessons ranges from $462 to $924, with the amounts prorated to whenever you first sign up.
• NH Tunes (250 Commercial St., No. 2017, Manchester, 660-2208, offers 30-minute voice lessons to singers of all ages and singing abilities that start at $27 per lesson. Certificates and studio time packages can also be purchased.
• North Main Music (28 Charron Ave., Nashua, 505-4282, offers a 30-minute introductory voice lesson for first-time singers for $32. Following the first lesson, rates for lessons are $140 per month for one 30-minute lesson per week, $210 per month for one 45-minute lesson per week, and $275 per month for one 60-minute lesson per week. Senior discount rates are also available.
• Portsmouth Music and Arts Center (973 Islington St., Portsmouth, 431-4278, offers a six-week trial package of voice lessons for first-time singers for $231. New students may try it at any time of the year. Regular rates for the 18-week sessions are $693 for 30-minute lessons, $990 for 45-minute lessons and $1,251 for 60-minute lessons, with all costs prorated for the remainder of the semester.
• Rosita Lee Music Center (136 Lowell Road, Hudson, 882-8940, offers an introductory program of four weeks of 30-minute private lessons per week for $75 for new singers. Rates following the introductory program are $25 per week for 30-minute lessons, paid monthly.
• Strings & Things Music Store (113 S. Main St., Concord, 228-1971, offers voice lessons with rates that range from $25 to $37.50 per half hour, or $50 to $75 per hour, plus a $20 registration fee.
• Ted Herbert Music School (880 Page St., Manchester, 669-9469, offers private voice lessons open to ages 7 and up. The cost is $26 per 30-minute lesson, plus a one-time $25 registration fee for new students.
• The Voice Studio (Crystal Ave., Derry, 560-2495, has rates for voice lessons of $140 per month for 30 minutes per week, $210 per month for 45 minutes per week, $280 per month for 60 minutes per week, and $35 per half-hour additional lessons and first month students.
• West Brothers Music (Nashua, 438-1903; Manchester, 438-6193, offers private voice lessons, which cost $95 per month for 30 minutes per week, $165 per month for 60 minutes per week, and individual one-hour lessons for $35.
How to sing 10 percent better without any lessons
When it comes to singing, there are a lot of easy techniques you can practice from the comfort of your own home, whether you are preparing for your first lesson, in between lessons, or looking just to perfect that car or shower tune.
Lauren Cook, a voice faculty instructor for the Bedford Youth Performance Company, said practicing basic posture exercises in front of a mirror can help you identify which ways your body inadvertently moves when you try to sing certain notes, thus affecting the pitch and sound.
“The biggest things I would say posture-wise would be shoulder and chest tightness,” she said. “You want to have your shoulders to be relaxed and a stillness in the chest, because it’s all about the movement and the pulsation of breath.”
Neck strains and chin lifts are also common, especially with higher notes, according to Cook.
“When you try to sing higher, your chin has a tendency to lift higher and higher on every single note, and that just puts strain on the neck,” she said. “So it’s helpful to practice those exercises and to do some stretches.”
If you don’t know the capability of your own voice, Cook said, going through a series of warmup exercises with making certain sounds is also helpful.
“It sounds weird, but speaking certain words and making certain noises or sounds helps to explore what your voice can do,” she said. “Doing a few exercises a day also helps the muscle memory work together.”

Finding your voice
Where and how to take private voice lessons

By Matt Ingersoll

 Sounding like a pro singer in the shower or the car is one thing, but if you really want to work on your voice, private lessons can help you get a better-than-karaoke sound.

“Learning to sing is just like learning to play the guitar, the piano or any other instrument. Your voice is an instrument, so you have to know how to use it right,” said Bob Desmarais, owner and head instructor of NH Tunes in Manchester, which offers half-hour weekly lessons in a variety of musical practices, including voice. “Most of it goes back to the individual. If singing and music make you really happy internally, than that’s what it’s all about. It can be a huge confidence-booster.”
Most performance studios and community music schools in the Granite State will pair their voice students with a vocal instructor. Regardless of your age or skill level, Desmarais said being paired with the same instructor for each lesson is essential, so the instructor can get a sense of your vocal range and pitch control.
“That relationship between student and instructor is really important, especially for younger kids, because it’s important that they learn and look forward to their lessons,” he said. “It’s also important for adults to identify their range, pitch control issues, stuff like that. … So we would try to pair you with an instructor that would make sense from your experience level and from your age.”
Aubrie Dionne, performance leadership director of the Manchester Community Music School, said voice lessons even help to open up an entire new world for people to learn any other kind of musical instrument, whether it’s piano, guitar or something else.
“A teacher can guide the student in the right direction and help them set goals to improve,” she said. “[They] can really be an important figure in someone’s life.”
How to get started
If you are brand new to the world of private voice lessons, Desmarais said your first experience with an instructor is all about their learning your voice and vocal abilities.
“I kind of prep [the new students] and say that your first few lessons, you’re probably not going to be doing a lot of singing,” he said. “You’re going to be understanding your posture and understand how to breathe … [and] your instructor is going to be discovering your pitch control and your range, so that once you do start singing, we might be able to transpose certain songs to be more in your key.”
Dionne said Manchester Community Music School offers a trial package of six weekly lessons for $199 for first-timers to prepare them for what taking lessons long-term will be like. Several other schools and businesses offer similar packages, so that you can try it without having to sign up for a full-length program.
“[The trial package] is a great way for students to determine if they work well with a particular teacher,” she said. “Each teacher has a different approach for each student … [which is] tailored to their needs and goals.”
For singers of all ages, Desmarais said it’s really important to work on songs you enjoy, because you’re likely to look forward to your lessons more.
If you’re really good
Desmarais said for more experienced singers, voice lessons are about focusing on a specific area like performance skills and presentation.
“Performance is such an important part of musicianship,” he said. “A lot of times the experienced performers will say, you know, I’ve had practice singing, but I feel nervous and not in control when I perform, I feel like I’m a passenger in a car, it’s just happening … so I’ll take them with me to perform at some small gigs.”
Recitals are held every two months for students of NH Tunes to gain experience performing in front of small crowds. Desmarais said these events are usually at nursing homes, churches and sometimes at the YMCA. Depending on the singer’s level of experience, a student may be singing on stage alone, with a recording of the song playing in the background, or may have an instructor play an instrument on stage with them.
Desmarais added that lessons for seasoned singers also can be more specialized than those for new singers in terms of exercises.
“A singer may come in and say that they are having problems with the upper range in their voice or something like that,” he said. “So the instructor might assign certain exercises to kind of increase and improve their range.” 

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